[WRAP – Wednesday, July 18, 19.47pm]
The 12 boys and their soccer coach rescued from a cave in northern Thailand left the hospital where they had been resting and healing and appeared at a news conference on Wednesday, looking healthy as they answered questions from journalists from around the world.
The group entered the news conference to applause from reporters and classmates and put on a quick demonstration of their football skills on a miniature soccer field set up in the hall where they met the media.
They got to hug their friends before taking seats up front with doctors and members of the Thai navy Seal unit who helped to rescue them from the cave, along with others who helped them during their ordeal.
Doctors said the 13 were healthy in body and mind. They said the boys gained around 3 kilograms on average since they were rescued from the cave. They were said to have lost an average of 4 kilograms during the more than two weeks they were trapped in the cave.
The news conference was the first opportunity the members of the team had to speak directly to the media, although video of them was released previously. Officials reviewed questions in advance to make certain none might cause damaging psychological effects.
They were asked about the moment when two British cave divers first found them and also the circumstances of how they entered the cave and got trapped there.
The Wild Boars teammates had entered the Tham Luang cave on June 23 for what was to be a quick, relaxing excursion after football practice. But rain began falling while they were underground, and water filled the caverns, cutting off their exit.
The British divers found the group huddled on a spot of dry ground deep inside the cave nearly 10 days later, hungry but generally healthy. An international team of rescuers using diving equipment and pulleys extracted the 12 boys, who range in age from 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach through the tight, flooded passageways over three days, concluding July 10.
Some of the boys were treated for minor infections during their hospital stay, but all 13 have been described as recovering well.
The family of one of the boys was preparing their home for his return Wednesday night.
Banphot Konkum, an uncle who has raised 13-year-old Duangpetch Promthep, or Dom as he is known to his friends, said he’ll have a renovated bedroom and gifts awaiting him.
“We’ll do whatever he wants. If he wants anything we’ll buy it for him as a present as we promised that when he gets out, whatever he wants we’ll do it for him,” Banphot said.
Meanwhile Elon Musk, the Silicon Valley billionaire who had his staff design a mini submarine to help rescue the boys, has apologised for saying bad thing about one of the British divers, Vernon Unsworth. Musk got into a Twitter war with Unsworth after the experienced cave diver bluntly told him that the submarine would not have worked. Musk accused Unsworth of being a child molester and Unsworth was considering suing him.
In response to the row, Tesla, one of Musk's companies, lost around 3 per cent of its share price. This was not good news for Musk, who is also boss of The Boring Company and Space X, as his shares have been losing money. In the last month they have lost around 16 per cent.
[UPDATE – Wednesday, July 18, 19.47pm]
The 12 boys and their football coach entered the news conference to applause from the media and their friends. They put on a quick demonstation of their ball-handling skills in a special miniature football field set up in the hall where they are meeting the media on Wednesday.
Members of a Thai youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave have left the hospital where they have been treated since their rescue. They are due to speak to the media before they get to go home.
Doctors say the team are generally healthy, aside from a few minor infections.
The news conference, to be held in a government building, will be the first time the members of the team will be able to speak directly to the media, though video of them was released previously. Officials are reviewing questions in advance to make certain none might cause damaging psychological effects.